Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Go with Love and Respect

Difficult news in Thunder Bay. Another young life lost. More defensiveness and shoulder shrugs. And a new report that attempts to create some sort of accountability for the past.

I can read news reports, like those linked above. I can read all sorts of public documents, but I am all too aware--having been a person who wrote documents--the silences and omissions and safe statements in much public information.

For a couple of years now, I've been trying to listen for underrepresented voices and lift them up. It doesn't matter whether I agree with what they say. I try to understand. I get burned out and take a break. I go back and try again to read and learn, and (hardest of all) to curb my desire to "weigh in" and argue and question.

In recent years, parts of the Canadian literary community have also been trying to lift up Indigenous and other underrepresented voices. Recently, this collaboration between Prairie Fire and CV2 appeared in my mailbox.







And what a lovely collaboration it is. Curators Katherena Vermette & Warren Cariou discuss what they mean by "ndncountry," and the difficulty in choosing the pieces to publish. They close with gratitude to the publications, sponsors, and to the writers. And finally, they thank the readers for their interest, saying that they hope readers "will return again and again to savour this work. Go with love and respect, and you will be rewarded."

I had been reading it bits at a time, and enjoying it. Then, on my birthday early in November, I read this:


I haven't experienced all that Randy Lundy describes, but this fall, this birthday, I recognized this feeling.

Another special moment was turning to this poem, by Jana-Rae Yerxa.


I loved the whole poem (BUY AN ISSUE TO READ IT ALL!), and I was thrilled to read about Jana-Rae and realize that she studied at Lakehead and lives in my (metaphoric and literal) back yard.

No, wait. We share a back yard.

Um. Actually? I live in her back yard. And that of the other writers in this volume. And I'm grateful, so grateful, for the opportunity to get to know them all better.

So here: I'm now saying this. Buy this magazine, as well as other literary magazines in Canada that lift up underrepresented voices. (The names above have links, and they're also listed below.) Read the work, several times. Talk about it with your friends. "Return again and again to savour this work. Go with love and respect, and you will be rewarded."

Prairie Fire: Volume 39, No. 3, Fall 2018
CV2 Contemporary Verse 2: Vol. 41, No. 2, Fall 2018